Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Maddie McNeil sends a penalty shot to the net. Her skip goal tied the game at seven late in the third period. She led the team with three goals in the loss.
With a berth in the Div. II Valley Championships on the line, the Madera Coyotes girls water polo team came out flat and couldn’t recover in a 10-8 semifinal loss to the Redwood-Visalia Rangers.
The sixth-seeded Redwood scored the first three goals of the game and the second seeded Coyotes were in comeback mode the rest of the game. They tied the score at seven, but couldn’t take the lead. The Rangers advanced to the semifinals with an 11-10 victory over No. 3 Monache and will face top seed Porterville in the championship.
Madera didn’t have an answer for Redwood’s Emma Peters, who scored a game-high five goals, including the dagger with 1:49 left in the game.
Madeleine McNeil led the Coyotes with three goals. Ashlyn Ortega and Emily Lopez-Ibarra each scored two goals. Bailey Hansen added a goal. Goalie Nicole Gibbs recorded 10 blocks.
Madera had trouble finding offense. They scored five of their eight goals in a man advantage or by penalty shot, including the last four goals. Redwood had 14 ejections in the match, including three players who were excluded.
Redwood won the swim to the first ball and scored 16 seconds into the game. They added another goal off a rebound 30 seconds later for a two-goal lead a minute into the match. Redwood added another goal on a breakaway with five minutes left in the first.
Madera finally got on the scoreboard 30 seconds later. McNeil got the ball on the left and pushed it by the goalkeeper off a rebound on a missed Hansen shot off the post.
Redwood added to its lead with a goal from the left side with three minutes left in the period for a 4-1 lead.
Less than a minute later, Madera cut the lead down to two. In a man-up situation, Ashlyn Ortega shot from the outside to the right side of the net for the goal.
Two minutes into the second period, Redwood added a goal in a man-up situation for a 5-2 lead.
With 3:51 left in the half, Madera drew a five-meter penalty shot. Hansen shot inside the right post to cut Redwood’s lead to two.
After a Gibbs block, Madera countered. From the outside on the left, Ortega sent a floater to the opposite corner for the goal and cut the lead to one.
A minute later, Redwood scored on a floater and added a goal off a rebound with five seconds left in the half to open a 7-4 halftime lead.
Two minutes into the second half, Madera got a man advantage. Lopez-Ibarra sent a shot from the right side through the arms of Redwood into the back of the net to cut the lead to two.
Madera cut the lead to one with 4:22 left in the quarter when the Coyotes drew a five-meter penalty shot. McNeil skipped a shot into the left side of the net.
After a Gibbs save on a man-down, the Coyotes tied the score. McNeil drew another five-meter shot and sent a skip shot into the same corner to tie the game at seven.
Redwood stopped Madera’s momentum with a goal with 41 seconds left in the third period to open an 8-7 lead.
Despite a Gibbs save, Redwood reclaimed possession and scored with a Madera defender draped over the shooter for a 9-7 lead.
Madera came right back. Off a pass from Lola Gill on the right, Lopez-Ibarra shot into the right corner in a man-up situation to cut the lead to 9-8 with 2:39 left in the game.
Less than a minute later, Peters scored from the outside to give the Rangers a 10-8 lead with 1:49 left in the match.
Madera drew a man advantage with 37 seconds left in the match, but the shot was blocked and Madera’s chance at a Valley title game was thwarted by the Rangers.